The May Day holiday has two histories, one green and one red. It has been observed to celebrate Spring, Life, the Earth and Abundance as well as the struggle of workers around the world. As Peter Linebaugh has argued, this second ‘red’ history commemorates the ‘relationships to other people and the blood spilled therein’ — marking the power of international solidarity and social movements aimed at system change and wholesale revolution.
The history of May Day originates in the United States. On May 1, 1886 over 300,000 workers walked off their jobs across the US to demand an 8-hour work day. In Chicago, this demonstration was greeted by violent repression — and the clashes with bosses and police resulted in mass arrests, worker injuries and deaths, police casualties, and ultimately, the execution of activists.
The event was adopted four years later as International Workers day and has been celebrated as a day of political action, strikes, marches, and demonstrations in support of INTERNATIONAL WORKING CLASS demands for political freedoms and in opposition to CAPITALISM’s devastation of the earth and peoples through exploitation, colonial extraction, enslavement, and occupation.